Wayne County FFA Freshman Harley Hodge discussed the cantaloupes grown in the school garden with Agriculture Extension Assistant Terry Bertram
Agriculture students Grant Vallelonga and Nathaniel Tuggle harvested grape tomatoes in the High School garden after helping students from Bell Elementary plant vegetables.
Bell Elementary second grader Adison Frost (from Jessica Foster's class) having fun using her broccoli starter in the garden
Bell Elementary second grader Braylee Kidd, a student in Jessica Foster's classroom planting broccoli at the school garden using their starters
Bell Elementary students had success planting
Bell Elementary second grader Jenna Sexton enjoyed planting the broccoli starter
The Wayne County High School FFA/County Agriculture Extension school garden is producing a wealth of vegetables this season, which are being featured in the five school cafeterias.
Most recently, Bell Elementary second grade students had the opportunity to plant a fall broccoli or cauliflower starter in the four-acre plot. The youngsters enjoyed the outing to the school garden and seeing where vegetables are grown.
The garden is always a work in progress and learning adventure for those involved. No two gardens are ever the same as new variations of seeds are introduced and production and maintenance techniques advance.
Much of the corn crop has already been harvested by the students. “We cut the corn in half because we just produced too much last year,” said County Agriculture Extension Agent Glenn Roberts. “We only planted half of what we planted last year.”
“We harvested 6,000 ears of corn this year, but we planned for 9,000 but raccoons confiscated some of the corn, plus the maturity was not good this season,” explained Roberts. “So, we had an average crop and that made it a lot easier on our volunteers (who assist the students) this year.”
Roberts was excited about the cantaloupe and watermelon crop noting that they have revealed a high quality and high yield. In the first harvest, they collected 310 cantaloupes from the first setting and 147 off the second setting. “We’re only half way through harvesting them,” noted Roberts.
Just recently, the watermelon crop has been harvested on two occasions. The students picked 523 watermelons which are being stored in the Turner kitchen where the produce is stored in a walk-in refrigerator before being distributed to the campus kitchens. Students use that kitchen to clean the produce and sometimes package it for distribution.
Plenty of Red Norland potatoes were planted by FFA students this summer. So far, the cafeterias have probably used 200 pounds of the potatoes in the lunchrooms. The kitchens are starting to mix the eggplants grown as an ingredient in their tomato sauce, as well as combining it with the squash recipes. Bell and banana peppers are just starting to yield in the two long rows planted. Students pick the grape tomatoes from the vines, but overall the tomatoes have done rather poorly this season.
The culminating crop harvested will be the pumpkins. Children at Walker Early Learning Center and Bell Elementary will receive a pumpkin at the school garden this fall.
Not only is the school garden a place for students to learn where food comes from, but the raised beds at Walker Early Learning Center become an outdoor classroom when county extension staffers conduct planting presentations. In fact, the youngest learners have already enjoyed planting fall crops this school year.